Aussie Expansion On The Cards as First Rate Sold To Q Limited
By Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room
THE rapid growth of NZ Search, Performance and Email Marketing company First Rate is set to continue with Australia the major expansion priority following its sale to ASX-listed minnow Q Limited.
First Rate fetched an initial $A2.32 million cash plus incentives up to 2009 in a deal that marks the emergence of Q Limited as the latest mover in the race to acquire digital marketing assets (think BlueFreeway).
It also gives First Rate’s “angel investor” Sparkbox an ideal exit opportunity and provides the company with a powerful Australian network via the Q Limited Board, which counts former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett as a director, and sister companies such as 3 Dimension Interactive.
Founder and Managing Director, Jon Ostler, will stay with the company and commented tonge-in-cheek: “I am very satisfied that the masterplan actually eventuated.”
But there is still a long way to go, he said, emphasizing that was simply the next step in the evolution of First Rate.
“We have been growing at 100% a year for the past six years I believe that revenue will continue growing at that rate for the next few years,” Ostler said.
First Rate’s Revenue for the 12 months to October, 2006, was NZ$3.4 million.
It has 20 employees and offices in Auckland and Sydney.
Search Engine Optimisation, Paid Search and Performance Marketing are First Rate’s major business streams.
In addition, the company operates an ad network plus a proprietary campaign and website conversion measurement system.
“We also do a lot of digital strategy work with larger clients as well which seems to be where a lot of SEM’s have gone.
“I think that’s because we are working so closely with the numbers – than say a display agency does – so we can get down to the nitty-gritty.”
Melbourne-based Q Limited also owns 3 Dimension Interactive, Project Services Australia and QDi Direct Press. First Rate will now share premises with 3 Dimension Interactive in Sydney.
Negotiations took around six months and were initiated by Mark Halstead, the founder of 3 Dimension Interactive and a board member of Q Limited.
First Rate clients include ING, BridgeClimb, APN News and Media (publisher of the NZ Herald), NZ Yellow Pages, Britz, The Warehouse and many others.
- Jon Ostler will speak at Search Engine Room in Sydney on March 20 & 21. First Rate is also an exhibitor at Australia's leading search engine event.
Copyright Search Engine Room, January 19, 2007